Did you know?
Thandi Klaasen's music ranges in style from brass to Mbaqanga.
The young primary school girl was inspired to become the butterfly - now known as jazz singer, Thandi Klaasen - when a band visted her school. From an early age she was a respected little singer and dancer in the churches around Sophiatown. She started her own successful all girls band, but an unfortunate incident in her teens was a temporary setback.
Klaasen was attacked with an acid bomb that permanently scarred and disfigured her lovely face. The desperate year spent in hospital almost ended her singing career. She said she was treated as if she had leprosy when people saw her burnt face, and it was very hard to adjust and again gain enough self confidence to try and get her life back. But this jazz artist persevered with an iron will and an enormous amount of courage and her career took a definite positive turn when she started performing with the great divas Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe, Dorothy Masuka and Sopie Mgcina.
By the early 1960's she was a famous jazz musician and Thandi Klaasen starred in the internationally acclaimed musical, King Kong, by composer Todd Matshikiza. Unfortunately, she had to follow the path that lead so many black artists abroad, who couldn't express themselves artistically in a country ridden by the harsh consequences of apartheid.
She's also performed with many international stars, including Roberta Flack and Patti Labelle. However, international fame did not alienate jazz singer Thandi Klaasen from her roots. She loved Sophiatown (or Kofifi as locals called it) and still often uses e'Kasi lingo, the colloquial dialect that was spoken in her hometown.
Klaasen was honored on numerous occasions for her contribution to authentic modern South African music in a great career of more than half a century. She is a musical icon and revered by musicians worldwide.